My Mom and I spent most of the last two weeks on a grand driving vacation. Beginning June 1, we made a big loop, which began and ended in Kimball and passed through nine states.
Our initial leg took us from Kimball to Ontario, Ore., in 13 hours, passing through Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. That was a 13 hour-plus leg covering 850 miles.
From Ontario we drove to Albany, Ore., a seven-hour drive of 450 miles.
In Albany, we participated in the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 5K walk in Salem. We met up with lots of family and friends and enjoyed the sights and a lot of really good food. We also took a side trip to the Metolius River in the Cascades, adding another 200-plus driving miles and seeing a lot of extremely pretty country.
From Albany we drove south into California, making another 450 miles over seven hours before stopping in Willows. Along the way we stopped to visit friends in a couple of locations.
The Next morning we struck out through California’s fertile central valley and drove 520 miles to Laguna Hills in about eight hours. We had a fantastic meal of Mexican food at Avila’s El Ranchito with family that evening and enjoyed the ambience of Orange County.
A short 75-mile drive put us in San Diego the next morning. Over the next several days we enjoyed visiting friends and family, seeing the sights, and dining on more, really good food.
On Sunday we left early and began the journey home, spending 13 hours on the road and covering 850 miles to Belen, N.M., passing through Arizona along the way.
On Monday we made the final push home, making 600 miles in about nine hours, beginning in central New Mexico, passing through eastern Colorado, and finally arriving home just before the arrival of a thunderstorm.
We covered more than 4,400 miles along the way and passed through nine states. We traveled on six of the 12 days we were gone, and spent six days in various locations relaxing and enjoying.
Along the way, all along the 4,400 mile loop of America, we saw agriculture in every place that was not city.
To put that into a bit of perspective, our mid-point stop was spent in San Diego. San Diego County has a total area of 4,526 square miles. You could easily put the 300 million people who live in this country in San Diego County, and only achieve a population density of 6,628 people per square mile, which is far lower than the population density of most cities and towns.
Throughout nearly all of the nation, where there are not cities, there is agriculture. Farmers and ranchers work day-in and day-out to feed the nation and much of the world.
I suspect that most of the non-agriculturalist parts of America’s population --roughly 99 percent of 300 million souls -- take this bountiful production entirely for granted. It’s easy to do so, because high-quality food and fiber are ubiquitous, cheap, and available everywhere. You can’t blame people for taking this bounty for granted. It’s bears consideration, though, and, when the topic comes up in conversation -- particularly with non-agriculturalists -- it’s worth pointing out a bit of information to help them put American agriculture in perspective.
On Tuesday I was back in the saddle. I spent the day on a fencing task, tearing out and replacing and maintaining. I could really tell that I’d spent most of the previous two weeks on my backside.
It was great to be home, and great to see the ranch after a short absence. While we were gone the cool season grasses had hit full stride and taken advantage of abundant soil moisture. Wildflowers had erupted everywhere, and nature’s wildlife had been busy making babies and growing.
Speaking of growing, the cows and calves had been busy too. Some of our February and March arrivals look like they’re nearly ready for market.
And now it’s time to get back to fence maintenance and dozens of other chores.